Dr. John Paitakes, former senior Criminal Justice faculty associate, is returning to serving on the New Jersey State Parole Board after 20 years at Seton Hall.
Paitakes was appointed to the Board by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and confirmed by the Senate Judiciary committee on June 23. He officially retired from SHU on July 31. Paitakes previously served on the Board from 1999–2006.
According to Paitakes, there are 16 Parole Board members in the state. He described his role as being similar to that of a judge. Board members serve on two-member panels in the evaluation of incarcerated individuals.
“The two member panel discusses the case and a decision is given to the inmate that day indicating whether they will be released or serve additional time,” Paitakes said in an email interview. “The major role of the Board members is to evaluate whether they (inmates) present a risk to society or not.”
The decision to leave Seton Hall wasn’t easy for Paitakes. “I knew that this type of opportunity to serve the State of New Jersey in a most critical and important role does not present itself that often, or perhaps never in most people’s careers,” Paitakes said.
Paitakes had prior work experience as a Probation Officer for Somerset County, N.J. It was from this experience that he was educated in the areas of Criminal and Juvenile Courts, sentencing procedures, and counseling offenders, he said.
After 29 years Paitakes said he retired as Assistant Chief Probation Officer for Somerset County, and then accepted his teaching position at the University.
Paitakes said the decision was difficult due to his role assisting students over the two decades at Seton Hall, regarding internships and career paths.
Alumni Rebecca Starner (’16), a criminal justice major, said she formed a bond with Paitakes in which he was encouraging and served as a mentor.
Paitakes helped to secure two internships for Starner at Somerset County Jail and Somerset County Probation.
Starner said Paitakes was there to give recommendations, send along resumes, and serve as a reference.
“He went that extra mile when he didn’t have to do that for me,” Starner said.
Paitakes said that his teaching experience allowed him to gain insight into students’ goals.
“Many incoming students are unsure of their future career choices and need mentoring and counseling from faculty,” Paitakes said. “Forming mature professional and educational relations with students was rewarding to see the maturation from their freshman year through their senior year.”
Jason Nielsen, a junior criminal justice major, came to Seton Hall while already working as a police officer at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.
“I always looked forward to coming to his classes. He has many life experience stories that always pertained to our class and made it interesting,” Nielsen said. “He guided me on the correct path, and I want to achieve all that he has. I can tell that he really loved what he does and it is sad to see him leave Seton Hall.”
Leah Carton can be reached at email@example.com.